Over the past three-and-a-half years, Mayor Lenice Peterman has seen many changes in her little town of Helper. From strolling along the recent river restoration river walkway project to browsing the local art galleries, Mayor Peterman is excited about transforming the small but mighty town.
Transformation may seem like a tall order for someone who, until three-and-a-half years ago, never held an elected office, but she’s up for the challenge.
“I feel like I’m in a position where I can bring about meaningful, thoughtful change to Helper, and create a more sustainable community,” said Peterman. “I’m very cognizant of including our citizens as we mature our vision and decide who we want to be.”
Her involvement in local politics started when the town submitted a grant for a sustainable design assessment. Winning that grant, and having experts from outside of the state visit the community and give them a blueprint for how they can create sustainability, prompted her to run for office.
The evolution of Helper’s Main Street from a “ghost townish” to a vibrant and economically sustainable street is both rewarding and exciting for Peterman. “We came together as a community to create and vote on designs of how we wanted it to look and feel, and then built it ourselves with a lot of community input,” notes Peterman. The beautification started with Main Street, which led to investors and other parties’ interest in creating and restoring other buildings.
Peterman is always looking for additional funding sources to improve the community. Recently, she has been fortunate to secure a variety of grants, including a grant for river restoration for the town’s phase six, which has amounted to over $600,000. “We’re making a lot of good things happen, and we’re doing it by getting creative in our funding approach and using those monies to double by matching,” she said.